New Jersey Lawmaker Wants to Punish People for Texting While Walking
A New Jersey Assemblywoman wants to ban texting while walking.
The legislation by New Jersey Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt would also bar pedestrians on public roads from using electronic communication devices unless they are hands-free. Violators would face fines of up to $50, 15 days imprisonment or both, which is the same penalty as jaywalking.
Half of the fine would be allocated to safety education about the dangers of walking and texting.
"Distracted pedestrians, like distracted drivers, present a potential danger to themselves and drivers on the road," Lampitt said. "An individual crossing the road distracted by their smartphone presents just as much danger to motorists as someone jaywalking and should be held, at minimum, to the same penalty."
The main question raised about the measure is whether it can be enforced consistently by police officers who usually have more pressing matters to deal with, said ABC News. Schumacher is among those who feel that rather than imposing a new law, the state should focus on distracted walking education.
Lampitt said the measure is needed to dissuade and penalize "risky behavior." She cited a National Safety Council report that shows distracted walking incidents involving cellphones accounted for an estimated 11,101 injuries from 2000 through 2011.
The study found a majority of those injured were female and most were 40 or younger. Talking on the phone was the most prevalent activity at the time of injury, while texting accounted for 12 percent. Nearly 80 percent of the injuries occurred as the result of a fall, while nine percent occurred from the pedestrian striking a motionless object.
The most common injury types included dislocations or fractures, sprains or strains and concussions or contusions.
A hearing on the proposed New Jersey measure has not been scheduled.